Local coulomb versus global failure criterion for granular packings

Silke Henkes, Carolina Brito, Olivier Dauchot, Wim van Saarloos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Contacts at the Coulomb threshold are unstable to tangential perturbations and thus contribute to failure at the microscopic level. How is such a local property related to global failure, beyond the effective picture given by a Mohr-Coulomb type failure criterion? Here, we use a simulated bed of frictional disks slowly tilted under the action of gravity to investigate the link between the avalanche process and a global generalized isostaticity criterion. The avalanche starts when the packing as a whole is still stable according to this criterion, underlining the role of large heterogeneities in the destabilizing process: the clusters of particles with fully mobilized contacts concentrate local failure. We demonstrate that these clusters, at odds with the pile as a whole, are also globally marginal with respect to generalized isostaticity. More precisely, we observe how the condition of their stability from a local mechanical property progressively builds up to the generalized isostaticity criterion as they grow in size and eventually span the whole system when approaching the avalanche.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2939-2943
Number of pages5
JournalSoft matter
Issue number13
Early online date26 May 2010
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2010


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